Strongholds: Joshua 17
by Dr Bob Dellinger
Today’s reading: Joshua 16-18.
I built snow forts when I was a boy. They offered good protection from the other guy as you lobbed snowballs into his fort. But one thing I never realized about snow forts back then: you were a sitting duck as you huddled in your fort. Today many Christians allow spiritual fortresses in their lives. These strongholds offer the enemy safety as he lobs spiritual darts into our heart. All the while many of us put up with the attacks, never realizing that the enemy is a sitting duck. The Israelites made the same mistake as they settled Canaan.
Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements… Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely. Joshua 17:11-13
Manasseh didn’t follow God’s plan, and they weren’t the only tribe who failed to do as the LORD commanded. They were supposed to eliminate the Canaanites. Instead they allowed pockets of them to remain within their midst. The towns mentioned above are notable for some of the spiritual defeats that would later take place there (Endor and Megiddo, for instance). It wasn’t just lack of military might that left the Canaanites in place. If the Israelites could enslave them, then they left them alive for some other reason. The writer of Joshua goes on to tell us more about the attitude of Manasseh:
The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people and the LORD has blessed us abundantly.” “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.” The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” Joshua 17:14-16
What a contrast between Manasseh and Caleb, who wasn’t afraid to tackle the giants in his hill country. Caleb trusted God’s promises. Manasseh focused on the problems rather than the promises, even though the LORD had already proven himself. As a result Manasseh failed to claim the prize of the bountiful Jezreel Valley. Their descendants would have to fight that battle instead, again and again.
Each of us deals with spiritual fortresses. I’m not talking about external circumstances over which we have no control, but the dirty closets in our own spiritual houses. We know where they are, and we know who can help us clean them out, but we still leave the enemy there to hurt us day after day. Do you struggle with any of these Satanic snow forts?
- lust (including pornography)
The good news is that God has outfitted us to take down these sitting ducks. Paul laid out the battle plan. First we put on our spiritual armor: salvation, righteousness, faith, God’s word, the gospel, the truth. We pray in faith. Then, we fight.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
We don’t fight with worldly tactics but with God’s power (not by my own willpower but by prayer and the Holy Spirit). We recognize and debunk the lies of the enemy by applying the truth of God’s word (but I need to know God’s word). We capture our thoughts by not giving in automatically to every passion that grips us. Instead we test our thoughts and discard them if they are disobedient to God’s will. The people of Manasseh failed to capture their strongholds because they did not fight in God’s strength but their own, they gave in to the lie that their enemies were stronger, and they succumbed to a passion for ease and comfort. As for me, I still struggle with my own strongholds, but I’m confident they will fall. After all, they’re only made of snow.
A stronghold is a mind-set impregnated with hopelessness that causes the believer to accept as unchangeable something that he/she knows is contrary to the will of God. Ty Adams
Image by drake lelane on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0